Advance Review: The Flawed Fascinating Life Of Charlie Parker In ‘Chasin’ The Bird’

by James Ferguson

Charlie Parker was a legendary jazz musician. He influenced generations of creators across different mediums, but he was far from a perfect man. To celebrate his 100th birthday, Z2 Comics explores The Bird’s time in California from the perspective of all the people he touched along the way.

I was not very familiar with Parker’s music before reading Chasin’ the Bird. To be honest, I’m still not. I hope to change that in the near future. Fortunately, writer / artist Dave Chisholm makes this book incredibly accessible so anyone, regardless of their knowledge of the Bird’s work, will have much to enjoy.
Despite my limited knowledge of Parker’s work, I found myself quickly engrossed in his story. Much of this is attributable to Chisholm’s artwork as he has a way of pulling you in completely, regardless of the situation. It perfectly conveys just how big of a deal the Bird was and why so many people are still talking about him all these years later.
You can see this early on when Parker plays his first note on the page. You don’t hear anything, obviously, but you can feel it. It flows out of his saxophone like a genie, entrancing everyone that comes into contact with it. Peter Markowski’s colors amplify this a thousandfold. The music glows with a neon hue, like it has a mind of its own.
The beauty of Chasin’ the Bird comes in its variety. Chisholm uses a different style for each chapter, coinciding with a different person who’s telling the story. We get these unique perspectives on Parker, but never from the source. This adds to the man’s legend and provides a more well-rounded portrayal.
Chisholm packs a lot of information into this graphic novel. At times there are large blocks of text, either through narration or dialogue. Under other circumstances, this would be overwhelming or difficult to sift through, but that’s not the case here. Instead, it has a flow to it, almost musical in nature. Additionally, the story is just so interesting that you can’t help but get pulled in.
Chasin’ the Bird is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a flawed, yet amazing individual. It presents Charlie Parker not as a hero or a villain, but a human being capable of doing amazing things and moving people with his music, yet a victim to his own addictions and troubles. It’s a great character study and I’m sure a must read for any fans of the Bird.
Chasin’ the Bird from Z2 Comics is set for release on September 30th, 2020 at your local comic shop. It is currently available for pre-order at your local comic shop, bookstore, and Amazon.

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